Hand Guards - they take the impact your bars, levers and hands don't want to...
10) Hand Guards
This one's a bit of a contentious one. A lot of motocross riders see hand guards, especially the full wrap style I personally favour, as potential broken wrists. Like I said, I prefer the full wrap style hand guards (as opposed to "flipper" or "Flag Guard" styles you see at particularly rocky motocross or supercross races); I like that I can crack into a tree and not only are my levers fine, but so are my fingers.
There are any number of companies you can get hand guards from, but when it comes to full wraps, I look for something with a steel bar that mounts to your bars, and a plastic shield that has some "give" to it, meaning it will bend and crack rather than shatter when you hit something.
Pipe Guards - they do exactly what you think they're going to do, and more...
9) Pipe Guard
This is another iffy item. I personally don't run one, nor do many of the other two-stroke riders in my area (and really, this is mostly a two-stroke issue), but then again, we aren't riding a lot of super rocky terrain. For those of you who ride four-strokes, you probably can just move on, but for the benefit of the two-stroke rider who is unfamiliar with this particular piece of equipment, here's a quick rundown.
If you ride a two-stroke, your pipe comes out of the motor and sweeps around the front of the frame in a bulbous shape, and being so out in the open, it is exposed to dangers such as rocks, logs and other things that might crush or dent it. If the dents are bad enough, they can actually change the way your bike feels and rob power. Pipe guards, depending on the material and construction, can also decrease the chance of your pipe being ripped out of the motor (yes, that does happen!), which is a day ender and a half.
There are so many different kinds of pipe guards. In BC and Alberta, where they ride a lot more mountainous terrain, you'll find some pretty heavy duty cage style ones, while out here in Ontario our riders seem to prefer less invasive guards.
Over sized tanks will limit the number of gas stops you have to make during an event.
Also handy are quick fill type gas cans (pictured above) which will help make stops,
even with a regular tank, faster and less messy.
8) Over Sized Tank
Sometimes I think there are motocrossers who can benefit from one of these too; there's no shortage of stories of riders having run out of gas at inopportune moments, but when you're racing for several hours at a time, an eight litre tank just isn't enough, especially if you're on it. In most off-road races you have a chance to have a gas stop, either at a gas truck or in a pit lane, but you need to make sure you can get there, otherwise it's a long walk back.
There are any number of companies that make over sized tanks with quick-fill options. Best bet is to ask around and see what other people who ride your brand prefer.
Skid plates can be made out of a variety of materials and can protect a lot or a little of
your bike's under carriage and even the front of the motor.
7) Skid Plate
This one is particularly important if you're planning on doing any log hoping, and more so if it is an accidental log smash. Skid plates help protect the lower side of your engine cases. Cases are pretty strong, but when they fail... It's a massive problem. That's why you have a skid plate.
A skid plate can be made of plastic, carbon fibre or steel, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each. They also have a tendency to get packed with mud during the wetter races; to cut down on this most riders pack the gap between the motor and the skid plate with foam.
6) Rad Braces
This one should be a bit of a no brainer. You do not want to mangle a rad when you hit a tree; it is the LAST thing you want! Trust me, I've done it.
Rad braces are basically steel or aluminum braces that are fitted under your shrouds and are designed to withstand the impact of a crash so that your rads don't get bent, crushed or fail, meaning leak. No coolant in your rads means your bike will overheat pretty quickly.
Like I said, simple. Rad Braces; whether you ride moto or off-road, you probably should have a pair.
Rejetting a bike is always advised; your shop probably set it to factory specs and if you bought it used, well good luck! Who knows how it was set up before hand.
There are any number of things that can have an effect on how you jet your bike, most notably elevation change. Barometric pressure, and how "thick" or "thin" the air is, has a big impact on how you're going to jet your bike.
But first, let's clear the air: Do you have a modern EFI four-stroke? Just move on. You don't need this part. Just forget it exists. Work on levers or foot pegs or something. For those of us who ride two-strokes, or for people who don't have EFI four-strokes, read on.
Back to elevation. If you live in a mountainous area, or you're going to be riding in the mountains a lot, you will need to jet your bike differently than if you're planning on riding in low lying areas like along the coast. The general rule of thumb is to drop one size (from stock) for every one thousand feet of elevation change (upwards); this applies to both the pilot and the main. The higher you are, the thinner the air, the leaner you want your bike.
It's no secret that many top enduro riders run their bikes a little rich. The idea behind this is that a richer bike isn't as "snappy," but you do run the risk of fouling a spark plug if you're too rich. Running on the lean side will give you a lot of snap, but on the other hand the bike won't idle very well and you'll spend a lot of time trying to get it going again.
Not a pretty sight; it is important to have some sort of "anti flat" system on your wheels, be they
bib mousses, tire balls, extra heavy tubes or even a tubeless system.
4) Bib Mousse/Tire Balls/Heavy Tubes
So, a close second to doing the walk of shame to get gas is puncturing a tube and getting a flat. It will ruin your race. Bib Mousses are solid foam inserts that go in your tire and prevent flats. They can be a little difficult to put in if you aren't used to them, and require a bit of technique, some brute force and a dash or two of lubricant or grease to get them seated in the tire properly.
Another anti flat technique that is growing in popularity are tire balls. Again, they can be a little time consuming to install, but for most riders who've used them they're worth the effort. Tire balls operate on an individual basis, using multiple inflatable "tire balls" inserted into the tire. Sounds pretty simple, right? And it is, kind of. Unlike a mousse which is solid and therefore cannot pop, tire balls are inflated, and will pop, but their benefit is that one or two can burst without effecting the performance of the tire and wheel. If you allow too many to go, however, you might risk the tire coming off the rim.
The most economical option to help prevent flats is extra heavy tubes; they work just like a regular tube but are constructed of a thicker rubber.
3) Flywheel Weight
Flywheel weights improve the low end power of your bike. For off-road applications there are several different sizes of flywheel weights which you'll have to go through and work out which will be best suited to your riding style and skill level. Basically, when it comes down to it, a flywheel weight makes your bike easier to ride.
How, you ask? Well, changing your flywheel weight will change the way the bike accelerates, responds to throttle commands and as such how the suspension works and even how the bike enters and exits corners. A heavier flywheel weight, especially on a snappy motocross four-stroke, will make it less explosive without harming horsepower. It will slow the engine down; it will not make your bike slower. The weight will smoothen and broaden the transfer of power; when it's delivered consistently and in a more conservative manner a big, brutal 450 moto bike turns into a tractor that has the potential to plow through any woods course. The bike will be less volatile, which is good in the tight, technical sections, with power delivered to the ground in a predictable manner.
Even while it's #3 on this list, I still think it's the second best bang for your buck as far as improved performance goes. It makes a bike much more manageable and predictable to ride, and it can also help as an anti stall; it won't be as good as an auto clutch in this regard, but the momentum and inertia from a heavier flywheel weight will want to keep going, thus preventing the engine from stalling as much.
Both heavier flywheel weights and auto clutches will help your bike continue running
when it's in this position, and if you ride off road one time or another your bike will
end up in this position.
2) Auto Clutch
For many riders mounted on four-strokes, this one is a no brainer, but it's becoming more and more common on two-stroke bikes as well. Originally used to help ease stalling and heavy pull on a four-stroke clutch, they're turning up as a fancy way to enhance ridability on all kinds of bikes, from 65cc two-strokes right up to the monster 590cc four-strokes.
There's one big name in automatic clutches right now, and I won't name them, but from everything I've heard they're amazing and well worth the money. I have yet to talk to someone who wasn't entirely satisfied with their purchase, and almost every Pro rider I know has once, whether they ride motocross or off-road.
We had one years ago on a four-stroke, and it was the only way I could get the thing to start, and I loved the anti stall function. As for turning a five speed four-stroke transmission into an automatic, I never really got the full feel of it. The riders I've spoke who've been riding with them for several years now, however, love them.
There's only one thing they loved more...
Soft, very very soft... Enduro and off road riders like suspension that soaks up the bumps
and absorbs impacts from rocks, logs and roots while remaining in a straight, forward line.
This is the number one easiest thing you can do to your motorcycle to improve the ridability. It's a universal thing too, regardless of what type of riding you plan to do with your bike, getting the suspension dialled in is so very important. Every single rider I asked named suspension as the most critical component of their motorcycle.
The first step, even if you aren't going to get the suspension revalved and totally revamped, is set your race sag. Check your manual, or if you don't have one search on your manufacture's website, for the factory preferred amount of free sag (the amount the suspension compresses under the weight of just the bike).
To check your race sag, you need at least two, preferably three, people. Put your helmet, boots, chest protector and any other piece of equipment you typically wear that has some weight to it and hop on the bike. While one friend steadies the bike, have your other friend measure the amount your bike sags with your whole weight seated in a neutral position on your bike. That is your race sag. Most people will suggest between 100 and 110 mm of race sag. Adjust the collar on your rear shock until you have the correct amount of race sag.
If you've set your sag and you're still not happy with your suspension, you can go one of two routes. The first is sending it off to some fancy American suspension company, which is going to cost an arm and a leg. A more reasonable second option is ask around the pits and see who the Pros who ride the same brand of bike as you do have for their suspension guy. It'll probably be someone fairly local and someone who understands off-road racing (you need MUCH softer suspension for off-road than you do motocross). There are smaller, local guys all across the country, as well as "franchise" style outlets that work with Enduro Engineering and Race Tech directly.
Also note that suspension is a very personal thing! What's right for you and what's right for your buddy might be two entirely different things. Never be afraid to push for what you want.
For tips on how to set up your suspension, like setting your race sag and how to find your "sweet spot," stay tuned to our How To section for some sweet videos featuring some special guests.
Steering dampers were also heavily favoured mods; they help keep the bike straighth in
rough, rocky sections. Most riders in Ontario can take or leave them, but in Alberta and BC
they're considered pretty much standard issue equipment.
So here are the ten as per my rather unscientific and informal poll of guys I know who race off-road. You can also work with pipe and silencer combinations, clutch baskets, foot pegs (especially if your bike vibrates a lot and tends to put your feet to sleep), race fuel mixes, reeds, front and rear sprocket changes, jetting... Oh, it goes on! I could make a top 20 with those mods! It really depends on what kind of riding and racing you are going to do.
The lists of modifications you can make are nearly endless, and this was by no means meant to be a comprehensive list but merely a really good starting point. Other things I got from riders were steering dampers, welding the chain guide to the swing arm for extra stability, heavy duty chain guides, O-ring chains, running carb vent lines through the air box (especially important if you plan to be doing any water crossings), linkage guards, tall risers on bars, different bar/grip combinations (help combat arm pump!), taller/shorter seats, different foot pegs (keep your feet from vibrating to sleep).